Cal’s new-look offensive line generally got thumbs-up marks Saturday night after the Bears’ 41-17 loss at Washington.
That’s not to say anyone was satisfied.
“I thought they played good at times,” coach Sonny Dykes said. “Obviously, we’ve got to continue to play better. I thought they were a little more physical than we have been.”
Dykes reshuffled his O-line during practice this week, shifting left guard Jordan Rigsbee to center, pulling freshman Chris Borrayo from his redshirt year to play left guard, and replacing left tackle Freddie Tagaloa with redshirt freshman Christian Okafor.
Quarterback Jared Goff thought the new group “did a really good job, especially Borrayo for his first game.”
Rigsbee also was upbeat. “I thought we played pretty well up front,” he said. “We definitely made improvements from the last couple of games.”
Still, Goff was sacked five times and the running game produced just 58 yards, aside from Khalfani Muhammad’s 73-yard TD run with 5:06 left.
“The thing we’ve got to be able to do is run the ball earlier,” Dykes said. “The inability to get much of a run game going has continued to bite us.”
Rigsbee said there is no panic among the Bears, despite a six-game losing streak and winless Pac-12 record.
“The minute you start falling apart, it’s going to get 100 times worse,” he said. “The coaches have done a good job keeping us up, and definitely nobody wants it to get worse.”
Dykes praised backup quarterback Zach Kline, who couldn’t wrestling the starting job from Goff last week in practice.
Asked to describe Kline’s reaction to the news that Goff retained the assignment, Dykes said, “Zach’s great. He’s the ultimate team guy. He’s been incredible.”
Sophomore running back Darren Ervin had his role expanded, getting 10 carries for 37 yards.
At 5-foot-10, 195 pounds, Ervin “gives us something different,” Dykes said. “He’s a little bit more of a downhill runner, runs with his shoulders square, sets up his blocks probably best of any of our backs.”
Dykes said Ervin finally is healthy after being slowed by minor injuries to his ankle, shoulder and knee.
Dykes wasn’t pleased with the defense, which allowed 40 points for the sixth time this season. But he said offense was the bigger culprit in the first half.
“We just couldn’t get anything going on offense,” he said. “We punted the ball nine times in the first half.”
The Bears were 5 for 14 on third down in the first half, often failing to convert short-yardage situations.
“We just need to execute when we need to,” Goff said. “We didn’t do a very good job of that tonight.”
Not surprisingly, Dykes was impressed by UW running back Bishop Sankey, who rushed for a career-best 241 yards, 188 of them in the first half.
“He runs tough, he’s a hard guy to find. He reversed his field a couple times and got some big plays on us,” Dykes said. “At times, we played really good run defense. Then other times, they creased us.”
Goff attempted at least 50 passes for the fifth time this season and, with 336 passing yards, had his fifth game of at least 300 yards.
Muhammad’s 73-yard TD run was 40 yards longer than the previous longest run by the Bears’ this season.
Freshman safety Cameron Walker had a career-best 10 tackles. He has 27 tackles the past three weeks.
Sophomore wideout Chris Harper had six catches for 98 yards and sits at 99 receptions for his career. He has 58 catches this season.
Slot receiver Richard Rodgers also had a productive game with seven catches for 71 yards.